Ground-Penetrating Radar Helps Researchers Confirm 900 Year-Old California Tsunami


Digital elevation model and aerial photograph of the study area illustrating the location of the ground-penetrating radar profiles. (Image courtesy of UCSB)

A group of UC Santa Barbara geologists and their colleagues used ground-penetrating GPR radar to determine the breadth and depth of erosion from an ancient tsunami in Northern California. GPR allowed them to search for physical evidence of a large tsunami that hit the Northern California coast near Crescent City approximately 900 years ago.

The researchers said they found a distinct signature that indicated a tsunami and confirmed the finding with independent records, and GPR allowed them to see a the damage caused by that tsunami and measure the amount of sand removed from the beach.

They discovered that the giant wave removed three to five times more sand than any historical El Niño storm across the Pacific Coast of the United States. The researchers also estimated how far inland the coast eroded.

Their findings appear in the journal Marine Geology.

Read more at the UCSB Current.

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